Stretch Manga, Volume 1 (ストレッチ)

December 22nd, 2014

stretch1Back in June 2013, I reported about the existence of an odd little webcomic by Akili, called Stretch. Some time after that the Shogakukan Big Spirits Comic imprint must have picked the comic up. (The website now even says, “Big Comics Spirits Presents”.) In March 2014, I noted that it had been published as a collected volume.

And so as I wandered around the various bookstores in Tokyo, seeing Volume 1 of Stretch  (ストレッチ) (also available on JP Kindle) on the shelves was a bit like running into an old acquaintance. “Oh, hey, how you doing? So good to see you again…” ^_^ I picked up Volume 1 to reacquaint myself with Ran and her sempai at school, now roommate, Keiko.

The two women have a casual, almost cheerfully antagonistic relationship. Ran appears to work at a club as a hostess, Keiko in a respectable office a a career woman, but both of them drink too much and bicker in a friendly way. Ran is a fan of stretching, and she has taught Keiko some good basic ones. They stretch in every chapter, and teach us how to do this healthful exercise, as well. Nothing here is beyond the ability of any sedentary chair-sitter.

Each chapter is wrapped around a snippet of their exceptionally average lives. Work, home, friends, food, drink, stretch. There’s hint of relationships outside their own here and their. Ran had, at the very least, a boyfriend, and we are given the merest glimpse of a failed relationship in Keiko’s life as well. Work friends and school friends provide very normal society, which makes this just about the realest manga I have ever read.

There’s a fair amount of service. We get regular underwear shots and crotch shots, but they are presented without eroticism. The women wear underwear that lacks decoration – exercise bras look like exercise bras. They wear sweatpants or pajamas. We’re looking at a crotch covered in a pair of quilted, loose pants and I have to hope that Akili is doing this on purpose to mock the obsession.

There is a Yuri-ish vibe between Ran and Keiko, but it’s mostly because while they like each other, their relationship isn’t formal…or even nice all the time. They grope each other as just another stupid prank among many.

The end of this volume details how the two met in school and how their relationship developed, but not how they became roommates. Volume 2 is now available as well, and I know we’ll get more information about them in this volume. (Please refrain from spoiling if you’ve been reading the webcomics or the scans of same. Thanks.) I’m a big fan of stretching myself (like Ran, as a result of injuries), so I’ll be tuning in again.

Ratings:

Art – 8 Simple, solid, unadorned
Story – 6 The story is presumably the stretching, but the real story is told in the scenes around it
Characters – 8 Human, petty, a bit snarky, I quite like them
Yuri – 1, mostly in our heads in this volume
Service – 4 Perfunctory, maybe even satirical

Overall – 7

It’s a little weird, reading a manga about stretching, but it’s a pretty good manga. And we can all use a little stretch.

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8 Responses

  1. Lin says:

    I love this manga. It’s awfully cute and comfy. Plus, it gets a little more Yuri later on.

    By the way, I don’t think Ran’s ever had a boyfriend. Keiko did, of course, but Ran doesn’t even seem to like hanging out with guys.

    Also, she’s a university student. Her gig at the host club is just a part time job. She’s studying medicine if I remember correctly.

    • Then she lies to her sempai at the club. There’s no reason to think – in Volume 1, at least – that she is lying. Remember, I’m reviewing Volume 1 as it tells the story, and specifically asked for no spoilers.

      • en says:

        Well if you referring to the phone call Ran takes outside the Bar, then I think she is speaking to her mother. I mean she ends the call with “Oyasumi, Mama.” and there is no other implication that Ran has a Boyfriend, as far as i can remember. More so as I think, that Rans answer to her Senpai is more meant as don’t bother me it’s none of your business.
        Well that is just as I think it is. Neither English or Japanese is my native Language so I may be wrong.

  2. pucca says:

    Some friends don’t like this manga but i like it a lot.
    The stretch part was surprising at first but it well becomes integrated into the story.
    The chapters are short and the relationship between the two characters is slow to be explained but as we say in France ” lentement mais sûrement” :-)

  3. mangkook says:

    Oh my god I never been swept away by any manga in the last 5-6 years as hard as this title. Its now on my high rank manga among Living Game and Dance Till Tomorrow.

    Stretch whips so much emotion, leaving scattered clues, passing acute “moe”ness with cutest antics all within 10 pages or less its unbelievably, moving.

    demm its good!

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